Greens win WA senate recount, new election likely

Senator Scott Ludlam speak at a refugee rights rally.

WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam was officially re-elected on November 4 after an historic recount of WA Senate votes from the September federal election. He and the Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich won over the ALP's Louise Pratt and Dio Wang from the Palmer United Party.

Before the recount, a 14 vote difference between the Christian Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers Party led to a preference flow that supported Pratt. After the recount, a 12 vote margin favoured Ludlam.

However, the recount has been marred by the loss of almost 1400 votes by the Australian Electoral Commission, which may have changed the result. Most commentators believe that a new election will be the only way to resolve the matter.

A new election would be significant because it would test the levels of support for the Labor Party (which won only one seat) and the Liberal Party (which won three seats) after the early attacks of the Abbott government become known. It will also impact on whether the Greens or Palmer United Party have more influence in the Senate balance of power after July.

Another feature of a new election would be a likely increased involvement by so-called “micro parties” who have been emboldened by the wins by Dropulich and other newcomers. It has been reported that the “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery is already planning another micro party preference swap explicitly designed to elect small right-wing parties instead of Greens.

The Socialist Alliance has welcomed Ludlam's re-election and has called a WA state conference for December 7 with the intention of fielding candidates in any new poll.

Socialist Alliance WA co-convener Sam Wainwright said the party will maintain its principled preference policy of supporting the Greens and other progressive candidates before Labor and then Liberals.

“Being a small party is not in itself a virtue,” Wainwright told Green Left Weekly. “If we are unsuccessful, we’d prefer that our preferences help to re-elect a Green Senator than to support a right wing party.”